Commissioners issue Disaster Emergency Declaration

Apr. 29—Pittsburg County commissioners passed an Emergency Disaster Declaration Monday in the wake of severe storms and floods that hammered the area beginning early Friday and continuing through the weekend.

Commissioners said in the emergency declaration that conditions resulting from the severe storms and flooding constitutes a threat to the safety and welfare of the county and have created an emergency disaster situation.

Much of the damage in the county is from roads and tin horns that washed out during the intense rains, with parts of the county reporting rainfall of from five-to-six inches and more.

Commissioners said some roads were washed out or partially washed out in all three of the county commission districts, including parts of some roads that were completely lost.

They passed the Disaster Emergency Declaration during an emergency meeting held at 10:30 a.m. Monday morning, about an hour after their regular meeting concluded.

During the regular meeting, McAlester/Pittsburg County Office of Emergency Management Deputy Director Leonard Baughman told commissioners his office is sending representatives to the commissioners' district field offices to assess damage reports.

"What we're asking is to set up a meeting with each of your departments," he said. Emergency Management workers wanted assessments of damage to county roads throughout Pittsburg County.

Those damage reports will then be sent to the state.

"Hopefully, we will try to get this done in the next 24-to-48 hours," Baughman said.

He said the purpose of collecting the damage reports is to hopefully get Pittsburg County included in a state disaster declaration in an effort to obtain funding that will help keep roads safe and passable for the citizens.

District 1 Commissioner Charlie Rogers said parts of some roads in his district were impassable.

"We probably have five that were impassable," Rogers said. Portions of some roads were completely washed out, while tinhorns were washed out of others.

Crews have been working to improve the situation.

"They're going to try and temporarily fix them," Rogers said. Work crews will come back in a few days for more repairs, he said.

A part of McNally Road in Quinton area is completely washed out, he said.

Other District 1 Roads that were washed out include Ezekiel Road east of Adamson, a section of road between Crowder and Blocker, a road in Longtown and the Carbon-Bache Road.

In District 2, several roads have washed out, including a portion of Hardy Springs Road, said District 2 Chief Deputy Sandra Crenshaw, who is representing District 2 until a new county commissioner is elected.

Also, Peaceable Creek overran the South Bache Road, with Staples Road also flooding, she said.

County Commission Chairman/District 3 Commissioner Ross Selman reported significant damage in District 3.

"We got washed away pretty good," he said. Selman said in addition to several roads washing out, downed trees temporarily blocked others, until workers with chain saws cleared the roadways.

One of the worst washed-out roads was a part of Shady Grove Road northwest of U.S Highway 69, he said.

Selman said problems resulted from parts of some roads being underwater.

Although they were still working on their own roads, Rogers said county commissioners offered to help out their fellow commissioners in harder-hit counties, including Love, Murray and Carter counties.

He said they appreciated the offer, but had not yet taken him up on it.

In Pittsburg County, some residents gave the county workers an assist.

"I had a lot of citizens get out on their own tractors and shovels to get the roads open," Rogers said.